I love my early morning walks with our sweet cockapoo, Sophie. For me, it’s a chance to get some morning exercise and enjoy the freshness of a brand new day. I often have my camera with me so I can snap pictures of glorious moments – like spotting a purple orb – or discovering sidewalk chalk art drawn by a child. But for Sophie it’s all about scent and sound! Indeed, it’s first with nose and ears, not eyes, that she notices a cottontail bunny or crinkling leaf or sweet clover. She even sniffs out long forgotten, and apparently smelly, tennis balls, hidden deep in our pachysandra.
Just for fun, I sometimes close my eyes and try to soak up the world from Sophie’s perspective. When I do, it’s amazing how heightened my other senses become. Here are some of the things I’ve noticed: flags flapping, gate hinges creaking, wild onion smells so pungent you can almost taste them, fresh coffee wafting out the neighbor’s kitchen window, the tickle of a lady bug bare skin, and the coolness of wet grass between my toes.
As writers for young children I think we could all benefit from closing our eyes sometimes. I don’t mean burying our heads in the sand so that our writing is sappy and disconnected from reality. Of course not. What I mean is that my writing, at least, tends towards the visual if I’m not careful. But when I’m intentional (and close my eyes) my other senses kick in and my writing is enriched. Using multi- sensory imagery is especially important in picture books and other illustrated pieces, such as poems for magazines, where the illustrations already provide plenty of visual detail. So, go ahead, close your eyes and feel those other senses kick in. That’s my plan this week. Happy writing all!